Auto Repair Basics

Auto repair is the maintenance or modification of a motor vehicle to restore its condition and performance. Maintenance tasks include inspecting the vehicle, replacing worn-out parts, and repairing faulty systems. Performing these tasks on a regular basis can reduce the likelihood of major repairs and help avoid breakdowns.

Auto mechanics are required to have a thorough knowledge of automotive systems and their interconnections. Mechanics also need to be aware of safety issues, including the use of proper tools and handling of toxic chemicals. They may need to be licensed in some states. Mechanics can improve their job prospects by earning certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

A qualified auto repair shop should be able to fix most problems with your car, truck or motorcycle. The best way to find a reputable shop is to get recommendations from friends, family members and coworkers. You can also check out a shop’s reputation online. Look for customer reviews and ratings that reflect the shop’s professionalism, reliability and quality of work.

If you’re considering a major repair, shop around for the best price. Compare quotes from different shops, and consider the type of work that each offers. Some shops specialize in specific types of repairs or brands of cars. You can also ask the shop for a written estimate before you have any work done.

Many auto repair jobs are relatively inexpensive if they’re caught and fixed early on. For example, replacing corroded battery cable terminals usually takes less than an hour and costs less than $20. It’s important to be familiar with your vehicle so that you can recognize early warning signs of problems, such as an illuminated “check engine” light or unusual noises or smells.

It’s also a good idea to take your vehicle for routine maintenance, such as oil changes and tire rotations, as often as recommended by the manufacturer. This can reduce the likelihood of expensive repairs down the road, and it can improve your fuel economy and safety.

If you have a problem with the service provided by an auto repair shop, talk to the manager or owner first. If you’re unable to resolve the issue, contact your state Attorney General or consumer protection agency. Your agency may be able to provide you with information on alternative dispute resolution programs in your area or how to file a complaint against the shop in small claims court.

In addition to the basic tools of the trade, auto body repair shops need various sandpaper grits and a small can of autobody filler. Start with coarse sandpaper, then move to finer grits as you feather the edges of the dent. Finally, apply body filler in layers no more than 1/4-inch thick per application. Allow each layer to dry before applying the next.

Some states require auto shops to disclose if replacement parts are new, remanufactured, rebuilt or salvage. These parts are usually of lower quality than original equipment, but they can be the only source for certain items. If you’re concerned about the quality of used parts, ask the shop to provide a written warranty.